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Computer Hacking

August 23, 1994

Re your Aug. 12 Column One on the dangers of illicit computer access:

With several years' experience in data security at one of the world's largest computer installations, I found the article timely and accurate. However, its focus on the "hackers" fuels the misconception that this problem can be curbed by more law enforcement and improved ethics.

It can be addressed far more effectively from the other end. Passwords must be selected that cannot be guessed readily. Sensitive transactions must be isolated on private phone lines or transmitted in encrypted form. Authorized users must be trained to avoid common problems like passwords scrawled on the wall and strangers in bogus maintenance or delivery uniforms strolling through an office watching employees at work.

Computer security is not easy or free, but unauthorized access can be ruinous. Depending on the data affected, a single entry by an extremely malicious and talented intruder could cause bankruptcy, environmental disaster or even death.

Too many systems have feeble security measures. Grumbling about illicit access to such a network is like leaving a car in a dark alley with the keys in the ignition, then complaining when someone steals it.

GENE FELLNER

Downey

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